Standards on Substance Abuse: Standard XI. Mandatory abstinence

Standards prepared by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Substance Abuse

Table of Contents

Standard XI

Every court order which sets substance abuse conditions should prohibit all use of alcohol and illicit drugs for the duration of the order.


Some substance abusers erroneously believe that they can use alcohol or drugs in moderation without adverse consequences. Overwhelming clinical evidence demonstrates that the use of alcohol while in recovery from drug addiction, or the use of drugs while in recovery from alcohol addiction, is a clear indication that the substance abuser is not yet in recovery or has failed in recovery. (5) Accordingly, once the judge has concluded that a party's substance abuse is a factor in the case, in supervising criminal and civil cases and in establishing court ordered substance abuse conditions, the judge should specifically and unambiguously prohibit the party from all use of alcohol and illicit drugs and the abuse of prescribed drugs.

Compliance with such a prohibition order should be enforced through the drug testing called for in Standard XII.



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5. "Abstinence from alcohol and other drugs is the recommended goal for all drug addiction treatment." Terence T. Gorski, John M. Kelley, and Lisa Havens, Relapse Prevention and the Substance Abusing Offender: An Executive Briefing, p.12. Technical Assistance Publication Series, Number 8, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993, 1995.
"Recovery involves ....abstaining from alcohol and other drugs." Relapse and Recovery, p.12, Massachusetts Probation Service, 1998

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